Tag Archives: Electro Pop

The Merch Table: Ziemba Creates Perfumes to Accompany Her World-Building Electropop

Photos by Marcus McDonald

Music is only a small portion of what New York-based artist and musician René Kladzyk releases under the Ziemba moniker. In addition to being a musician, Kladzyk is also a perfumer who has paired her latest work—a series of sci-fi concept albums centered around an “imagined parallel world and a very real place” called ARDIS—with handmade perfume oils, scented candles, and body lotion. Buy the accompanying fragrance, get a digital download of the record (though regular, unscented tapes are available, too).

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Hidden Gems: Vendredi sur Mer, “Marée Basse”

In our series Hidden Gems, writers share their favorite Bandcamp discoveries.

Born and raised in Geneva, Charline Mignot, aka Vendredi sur Mer, now resides in Paris; it’s a fitting home for a musician who makes electro-pop indebted to Serge Gainsbourg, Renaud, and other chanson superstars. The title of her debut EP, Marée Basse, translates to “low tide” and, like her own nom de plume (which translates to “Friday on the seaside”), it captures the sensuous nature of these six tracks. Producer Lewis OfMan is a crucial part of this success; his synths are as elastic as they are assured, radiating with a pastel glow that suits Mignot’s poised delivery. While the 21st century has seen French artists like Fauve, Luciole, and Grand Corps Malade utilize spoken word, Mignot is far more intentional, ensuring that her voice is neatly woven in with the rest of the instrumentation.

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Chicago’s Futurehood Elevates Queer and Trans Artists of Color

futurehoodFuturehood releases music, primarily hip-hop, by queer and trans people of color, but its founders see it as more than a label. The operation that the QTPOC artists Mister Wallace and aCeboombaP started in their native Chicago in February 2016, with the release of the former’s vicious, unabashedly queer FAGGOT EP, is instead a platform: one for “music and video production to products and beyond,” as Wallace puts it. They further describe it as “my heart and soul… the vessel that houses my biological and chosen families. It is my arc.”

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Album of the Day: Tiny Magnetic Pets, “Deluxe/Debris”

Tiny Magnetic Pets’ 11-minute nautical/synthpop odyssey “Semaphore” is centered around a wayward protagonist, portrayed by singer Paula Gilmer, who’s looking for home. “I can’t tell if we’re waving or if it’s semaphore,” she sings, referring to the maritime method of communication. That song, from Tiny Magnetic Pets’ second full-length electro-pop album Deluxe/Debris, with its declaration, “The future’s here, it’s all we need,” is just one of the band’s many crystalline visions of a brighter tomorrow—an endearing quality that’s sorely needed right now.

Since 2009, the Dublin group have been perfecting their take on ‘80s-style synth-pop and vintage disco; the trio share a love of analog instruments, Marlene Dietrich, St. Etienne, Stereolab, Neu!, The xx, and Berlin-era David Bowie, among others. Deluxe/Debris features plenty of electro hooks, and blips and beeps that dot the landscape like candy buttons. Over soft, digital pulse points, Gilmer’s young-Debbie Harry vocals combine with wavy, orchestral synths from Sean Quinn and buzzy percussive loops by drummer and programmer Eugene Somers.

On the moody “Cold War Neon,” stark piano notes mix with digital Morse code, French vocals, and foggy ‘70s sax lines, for a feeling of romantic noir. “Here Comes the Noise (White)” is tense and pulsing, while its mellower twin “Here Comes the Noise (Pink)” slows the tempo to showcase Gilmer’s ethereal vocals.

In a validation of their avant garde leanings, the band met Kraftwerk’s Wolfgang Flür after a show, sparking a relationship which resulted in Flür collaborating with them on the computerized synth-rocker “Radio On”; his stern, commanding vocals and rigid synths enhance the group’s charms and talents.

Deluxe/Debris’ parting message, “Never Alone” is a ray of warmth, its synths pulsing and weaving, its melody assured and triumphant. Throughout, Gilmer offers reassurances like “Music is the antidote” and “Let the music chase the world away,” as she pleads to be allowed to continue space-age dream, hoping to “travel at the speed of light … sail the ship into tomorrow.”

—Emily Reily

Shy Layers Doesn’t Mind If You Call His Music “Easy Listening”

JD Walsh
JD Walsh, aka Shy Layers. Photo by Jamie Keiter

Shy Layers is the solo project of JD Walsh, a visual artist with a day job in video editing and motion graphics. (The name of the project, which also graces his eponymous debut EP, is also the name of a video editing tool.) Though he’s played in various bands over the years, a recent move—from New York to Atlanta—caused Walsh to turn his attention to his solo music. The result is a warm, winning batch of sparkling, soft-focus pop songs.

We spoke with Walsh about the relationship between visual art and music, making pop music that’s challenging, and the appeal of the vocoder.

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Róisín Murphy’s Creative Balancing Act

Róisín Murphy
Photo by Nicole Nodland
Obviously I’m leaving a mark, and I’ve made a mark. If you talk about being good to the world, it hasn’t been a bad one. I’m not leaving rubbish behind, garbage behind.—Róisín Murphy

Before Róisín Murphy’s Mercury Prize-nominated Hairless Toys was released in 2015, it had been eight years since her last record. While many musicians would make much of the hiatus or cite an enduring creative block, Murphy has matter-of-factly said that the right record just didn’t come calling. But when she teamed up again with longtime collaborator Eddie Stevens and went into the studio to record again, the songs for Hairless Toys flowed as if there’d never been a dry spell. (She had previously primed the pump with her Italian language EP, Mi Senti.)

Whether in her previous band Moloko, on her own, or collaborating with other musicians, Murphy has not shied away from the challenge of making intellectually complex pop music. She combines electronic and live instrumentation in surprising layers beneath her Irish contralto. Those qualities are some of the reasons Hairless Toys was such a winning album. And now Murphy has released another album of songs from the Hairless Toys sessions. While the new album, Take Her Up to Monto, out July 8, may share an origin story with its predecessor, Murphy easily articulates differences between the two. She calls her new album more “pointy” and “extreme,” saying it’s the irreverent sibling to the previous album’s quiet child.

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Fear of Men Are Braver Than You Think

Fear of Menphoto by Rosie Carr & Daniel Falvey

“There’s a first draft, and then maybe there are 100 more or maybe there are only 5, depending on what comes to me. I wouldn’t write a song without having something I want to say.”—Jess Weiss

It sounds like the set-up for a horror movie: the members of the brainy Brighton electropop outfit Fear of Men loaded all their gear onto a bus, traveled deep into the English countryside, and arrived at a deserted farm in the middle of nowhere. They set up their guitars, amps, synths, and microphones around some odd machinery in a remote building. Long nights ensued, with guitarist Daniel Falvey and drummer Michael Miles tinkered with their instruments to devise new sounds while singer/lyricist Jessica Weiss went off on her own to mold her most personal thoughts into tight melodies and fluid hooks.

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